RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "margaret gray"

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET What the script lacks in surprises, it makes up for in its nuanced, beautifully written portrait of Biddle, an inestimable gift to an actor, and one that the wonderful Abatemarco, under the skillful direction of John Henry Davis, exploits to the fullest. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Long Beach’s International City Theatre (ICT) […]

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 81% - SWEET

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 81% – SWEET

SWEET Director Randall Arney deftly captures every nuance in the relationships and their unfolding. He keeps the comedy flowing, the realizations only gradually emerging. And he has assembled a terrific cast, knowing and expert. Neal Weaver – ArtsInLA BITTERSWEET It isn’t a bad play, by any means. The set design is detailed and nails the […]

VISIONARY MAN: 73% - BITTERSWEET

VISIONARY MAN: 73% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET “Visionary Man” currently at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood’s Theatre Row is a powerful, brilliant yet warm and fun show depicting the amazing life of the fascinating materially poor but spiritually rich Georgia dirt farmer turned world renown painter J. B. Murray. Ron Irwin – LA Examiner SWEET Director Tom Coleman, who co-wrote the […]

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT: 78% - SWEET

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT: 78% – SWEET

SWEET There’s a lot to enjoy in this romantic comedy and it’s a show you might just fall in love with. Sandro Monetti – Thespian Thoughts BITTER It’s all been done before, and no amount of frantic running in and out of doors is going to bring this material back to life. Kurt Gardner – […]

THE BROTHERS SIZE (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

THE BROTHERS SIZE (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET The battle over Oshoosi’s fate plays out with thrilling immediacy in this staging by Shirley Jo Finney, who also directed “In the Red and Brown Water” at the Fountain. She is ably assisted by Hana S. Kim’s evocative, abstract set, Ameenah Kaplan’s powerful choreography, Peter Bayne’s original music arranged by Brenda Lee Eager, and […]

HIT: 80% - SWEET

HIT: 80% – SWEET

BITTER The new play Hit by Alice Tuan, currently playing Los Angeles Theatre Center, unevenly shifts from hard-hitting drama to black comedy to avant-garde theater yet never makes clear its intentions. And though the actors are skilled professionals, they are not able to make the script’s unlikable characters relatable. Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania BITTERSWEET Still, […]

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% - SWEET

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The ending, though bold, is disappointing: There’s the sense that D’Aquila wasn’t quite sure what to do with his entertaining characters once he’d gotten them all onstage. His writing and performance make Gino, especially, a sympathetic and interesting antihero who may deserve a better story than he gets. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET […]

FIVE MILE LAKE (SOUTH COAST REP): 85% - SWEET

FIVE MILE LAKE (SOUTH COAST REP): 85% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Rachel Bonds’ new drama about small-town concerns is promising but needs fleshing out. Paul Hodgins – OC Register SWEET Regardless of the flaws, Bonds does prove that she is a match for her SCR contemporaries on the Argyros stage. Hopefully, she will create another draft that will result in Five Mile Lake fulfilling its […]

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% - SWEET

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% – SWEET

SWEET The performances, particularly of the two leads, are confident, nuanced and memorable. And the rich sensory feast Kubzansky and her team have served up — which also includes lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, sound by John Zalewski and witty props by John Burton — is a powerful reminder of why beauty, heartless though it may […]

WHITE MARRIAGE (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

WHITE MARRIAGE (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Performances from the strong 11-member company are first rate, and Sossi directs his cast to play the lengthy, absurdist drama for maximum laughs. Yet there is a dark and disturbing undercurrent flowing beneath the allegorical farce that only fully emerges in the play’s final, devastating moments. What’s missing throughout is a sense of rising […]

PAUL ROBESON (EBONY REP): 75% - BITTERSWEET

PAUL ROBESON (EBONY REP): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The least effective scene is an unnecessarily thorough reenactment of Robeson’s appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, with Smith asking the questions from the piano bench. The slack direction and unfocused storytelling render a potentially dynamic sequence tedious, bombastic and repetitive. The reliance on history that charges “Paul Robeson” ultimately proves its undoing. […]

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 91% - SWEET

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 91% – SWEET

SWEET I left the Pacific production in Venice with the feeling that I had just seen a rich and complex tale unfold before my eyes. Don Shirley – LA Observed BITTER In theory, it’s a fascinating concept. But among Henry V’s many virtues is the script’s tight construction. And the cost to the staging’s energy […]

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% - SWEET

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET But Pierce has caught the rhythms of teenage girl-speak, and Gray, a credentialed actress and University of Chicago student (no relation to this reviewer) revels in them. Her wonderfully gravelly voice and quirky delivery make Becky thoroughly entertaining. And the characters’ developing bond despite their differences is touching and persuasive. Margaret Gray – LA […]

STAND-OFF AT HWY #37: 80% - SWEET

STAND-OFF AT HWY #37: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Although director Jon Lawrence Rivera keeps the polished production — with an appealing set by Jeff McLaughlin, projections by Adam Flemming and sound by Cricket S. Myers — clipping along smoothly, the characters never really develop beyond interesting types. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Aunt Bev’s exposition as the curtain lifts and before […]

DERBY DAY: 100% - SWEET

DERBY DAY: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Silberman, Madera and Foster are to be commended for their ability to share these men first as suited and somewhat upstanding citizens and then take us with them as they sink into the depths of depravity in their souls. Each actor was fully engaged in their characters, even as the many items were thrown […]

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% - BITTERSWEET

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Although the plot is nearly as implausible as this bald synopsis implies, and although in another play Miss Edwards’ behavior might invite a lawsuit, neither concern, somehow, is obtrusive here. Director Andrew Barnicle establishes a brisk, good-humored pace that enables him to sidestep every sand trap and land mine. Margaret Gray – LA Times […]

FIREMEN: 93% - SWEET

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional […]

A CAT NAMED MERCY: 71% - BITTERSWEET

A CAT NAMED MERCY: 71% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Most of these twists feel forced, hinging on coincidences, abrupt about-faces and even interventions from the spirit world, the cosmology of which remains puzzling. (Kitty is somehow able to learn Catalina’s bank account number from a supernatural source.) Implausibility adds an unintentionally comic note to the heartfelt efforts of director Hector Rodriguez and the […]

LET'S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% - SWEET

LET’S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% – SWEET

SWEET We never learn why these three are so tight to begin with, but who cares if they express their current thoughts and feelings through more than 30 of Porter’s songs? Which they do, with admirable precision and grace. Todd Nielsen directed and choreorgraphed, with musical arrangements by co-conceiver Patrick Young and music supervision by […]

RX: 94% - SWEET

RX: 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET There are consolations, though, in the performances of Michael Dempsey, who plays an ad exec and a scientist (he also adds flair to the frequent set changes on the slapdash set credited to director Pleshette), and Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s soundtrack of popular songs enhanced with mood-drug references. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET True, […]

WALKIN' IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% - SWEET

WALKIN’ IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Unlike their previous year-end offerings, based either on popular children’s TV specials (The Little Drummer Bowie, A Charlie James Brown Christmas) or on beloved movie hits (It’s A Stevie Wonderful Life, A Christmas Westside Story), Walking In A Winter One-Hit-Wonderland dispenses with storyline, big-cast production numbers, and even its usual second act to simply […]

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: TWIST YOUR DICKENS! (KIRK DOUGLAS): 86% - SWEET

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: TWIST YOUR DICKENS! (KIRK DOUGLAS): 86% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET As irresponsible as it may be to encourage drinking at this time of year, you are more likely to enjoy “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre if you toss back a few Tiny Tim-tinis or Scroogedrivers at the lobby bar beforehand. And not because your “naughtiest misdeed” — which […]

GOD'S GYPSY: 49% - BITTER

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

BITTER Daavid, in addition to designing the set, directed the play. But it wasn’t his direction that was at fault. It was the script. If it were cut to 90 minutes, the play might be worth seeing. Mostly, though, the “worth seeing” part is confined to Lili Haydn, a spectacular violinist and composer whose introductory […]

PLAY DEAD: 97% - SWEET

PLAY DEAD: 97% – SWEET

SWEET The illusions themselves vary in impressiveness. Maybe not all will blow your mind. It won’t matter. The dark, the gore, the morbid anecdotes — and that eye-twinkle — will put you into a state of nervous excitement like nothing since pre-teen slumber parties. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET In “Play Dead,” there is […]

THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB: HOW TOMI GOT HER GROOVE BACK: 66% - BITTERSWEET

THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB: HOW TOMI GOT HER GROOVE BACK: 66% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Eventually, the combination of sitcom-style one-liners and pat revelations (“Loss is so hard”; “We take life for granted sometimes.”) with the unfocused, meandering plot risks straining even a favorably disposed audience’s patience. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Of course, some of the gags sound limp. But in the end, not only Tomi but […]

THE PAIN AND THE ITCH (ZEPHYR THEATRE): 73% - BITTERSWEET

THE PAIN AND THE ITCH (ZEPHYR THEATRE): 73% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Initially provocative, the tart humor grows rancid, the plotting feels heavy-handed and the characters are eviscerated so balefully that you may, defiantly, start to sympathize with them. If you do remember them at your own Thanksgiving table, you will also be glad you didn’t invite Bruce Norris. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET While […]

WHEN YOU WISH: 61% - BITTERSWEET

WHEN YOU WISH: 61% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The score is packed with brisk, pleasant numbers, the leads deliver strong performances, the ensemble is lithe, and Norman Large twinkles in an array of quirky bit parts. Everyone will enjoy the in-jokes, as when Roy, worried about money, remarks of some merchandise samples, “Hey, maybe this stuff could help us.” So maybe we […]

FALLING: 100% - SWEET

FALLING: 100% – SWEET

SWEET When events take an abrupt, fantastical turn, don’t worry: Jent is too sophisticated a writer to give the Martin family an easy way out. Ultimately the clash of irreconcilable values — Tami’s consuming love for Josh versus what she owes the rest of her family — has a spare, nearly Sophoclean power. Although Tami […]

THE INTERVIEW: 75% - BITTERSWEET

THE INTERVIEW: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Overall the smart drama entertains: Wyenn fosters an understated style that softens the spikier plot developments, and the performances, particularly Sullivan’s, engage even when they don’t entirely convince. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTER In breaking the unity of both time and place, Ms. Josephs inadvertently hijacks her own play. After the third or […]

SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 92% - SWEET

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET So: an enjoyable concert, but one that may yield diminishing returns as it goes along for two bouncy but somewhat repetitious hours. Bob Verini – ArtsInLA SWEET “Smokey Joe’s” doesn’t try to fit its 39 songs into a plot, or dilute them with dialogue, and to my surprise I didn’t wish for a more […]